A Revision of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection for Middle School Students

A Revision of the Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection for Middle School Students
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Full Abstract: The Conceptual Inventory of Natural Selection (CINS) developed by Dianne Anderson and Kathleen Fisher is a valuable tool to measure how well college students understand natural selection. However, despite its value at the undergraduate level, its high readability deemed it of little use at the middle school level. The purpose of this study was to make the CINS more equitable for middle school students. Changes in the form of word substitutions and shortened sentences were made to the CINS in an effort to lower its readability. The CINS was also divided into two shorter versions. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 students to determine the outcome of these changes. The old and new versions of the CINS were administered to 325 students taking life science at a middle school in San Diego. Chi-squared analysis of the answer choices revealed that a significant number of students were guessing on seven of 20 questions on the original CINS in comparison to zero instances of significant guessing on the new versions. Bi-dimensional analysis supported this finding revealing that most students had specific reasons for their answer choices, whether in agreement with experts or not. It is hoped that the new CINS versions, now more accessible to middle school students, will be a useful tool in determining student alternative conceptions at this age, and help uncover the learning progression of students as they move from middle school to high school, and then to college.

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